The Catholic Church is one of the staunchest defenders of life in existence. Defending the sanctity of life is a core tenet of Church beliefs. So there was understandably a lot of outrage surrounding the Catholic Georgetown University’s decision to invite Cecile Richards, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, to speak.
The Cardinal Newman Society reports:
“This is the latest in a long history of scandal at Georgetown University,” said Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. “Disguised as an academic event, this is nothing more than a platform for abortion advocacy at a Catholic university and under the nose of the Catholic bishops, featuring a wicked woman who defends the sale of baby body parts and is responsible for the deaths of millions of aborted children.”
The student chairperson of the Lecture Fund confirmed via an email to the Newman Society that Richards will speak at Georgetown in April, but said a final decision has yet to be made on the exact date and speaking topic. The format is also still being decided, but the Lecture Fund is planning a 30 minute question and answer session as part of the event. However, the event will not be open to the public. Only invited guests and media, and those with a Georgetown University identification card will be allowed to attend.
So not only is Georgetown, the country’s oldest Catholic university, inviting the president of the country’s largest abortion provider to speak, they’re closing the event to the public, too. Gee, why would they possibly feel the need to do that? The answer: because Catholics are furious. They’re so angry that Georgetown had to release a statement defending their decision. And they’re peddling the same old excuse: free speech:
We respect our students’ right to express their personal views and are committed to sustaining a forum for the free exchange of ideas, even when those ideas may be difficult, controversial or objectionable to some. Georgetown University’s long-standing Speech and Expression policy governs the university’s response to controversial speech….
Ms. Richards is not being paid to speak. Student groups may invite any outside speakers and guests to campus. An appearance of any speaker or guest on campus is not an endorsement by the university….
Our Catholic and Jesuit identity on campus has never been stronger. Georgetown remains firmly committed to the sanctity and human dignity of every life at every stage.
Apparently, they’re not that committed to the sanctity and dignity of human life, if they’re willing to allow Richards to speak at their university. No, they’re not paying her. But by allowing her to speak, they are giving her — and by extension, Planned Parenthood — legitimacy. They’re saying that she is someone who is important and respected enough to be worthy of a lecture, whose ideas are valuable enough to be listened to. And that is deeply disturbing.
The Cardinal Newman Society also pointed out that Georgetown’s own Speech and Expression Policy puts limits on the free speech they will allow on their campus:
“The right of free speech and expression does not include unlawful activity or activity that endangers or imminently threatens to endanger the safety of any member of the community or any the community’s physical facilities, or any activity that disrupts or obstructs the functions of the University or imminently threatens such disruption or obstruction,” the policy states. “Moreover, expression that is indecent or is grossly obscene or grossly offensive on matters such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation is inappropriate in a university community and the University will act as it deems appropriate to educate students violating this principle.”
The part that stands out? “Expression that is indecent or is grossly obscene or grossly offensive.” So we can only assume that Georgetown doesn’t find Richards and her life’s work of aborting as many babies as possible indecent, grossly obscene, or grossly offensive. This also goes, quite literally, against Catholic teachings. The United States Council of Catholic Bishops banned Catholic institutions — which includes Georgetown — from honoring people who defy Church teachings. They specifically included giving these people “platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” Ex corde Ecclesiae is an apostolic constitution issued by Pope John Paul II, and it specifically applies to Catholic colleges and universities. It states that Catholic teachings and discipline should influence all university activities. Clearly, Catholic teachings didn’t influence Georgetown’s decision to have Richards speak.
There is no excuse for Georgetown to have Richards on campus in any way. And so now, they have a decision to make. What is more important to them? Upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church, or furthering their own anti-Catholic political beliefs? We should find out the answer to that question in just a few weeks.